I missed the announcement in 2020 that among the many game-to-anime adaptations coming our way was Shenmue. Now there’s a proper trailer for what’s creatively titled Shenmue The Animation, which just like the original game sets Ryo on his path to avenging his father’s death.
Shenmue The Animation is a co-production of Cartoon Network’s adult-oriented spin-off Adult Swim and anime streaming service Crunchyroll. It’ll begin airing on February 5th with 13 episodes produced.
I have regrettably been RPS’s resident anime guy for a long time, but I’m not so excited about this. The animation looks pretty rough to me, at least when compared to Netflix’s increasingly swish productions. Plus, a lot of what made Shenmue weird and interesting was its unusual commitment to simulating the world. Stripped of its interactivity, I worry it’s a fairly straightforward martial arts revenge story – not exactly new ground for anime.
For example, Shenmue 3’s “laid back rhythm” enraptured Matthew for chunks of its running time by lulling him into a state of “extreme zen/boredom”. If the anime doesn’t aim for that same state, can it really call itself Shenmue?
Maybe I’m wrong and several episodes will be dedicated to Ryo playing arcade games and racing really slow forklift trucks. I’m also unsure whether its 13 episodes will tell a complete story or be the beginning of a 20+ year saga. Shenmue 3 was finally released in 2020, 21 years after the first game, but it still didn’t bring Ryo’s journey to a close.
If you do want to hop into the game series now, Shenmue 3 is currently 75% off on Steam, making it £6.24/€7.49.